Communication skills – Listening exercise: A ‘true’ story

Stage of the project

Working Phase


  • finding out how rumours develop
  • realising how difficult it is to listen and to repeat information
  • practicing listening and speaking skills


  • group of four or more people
  • time: 15 – 30 minutes
  • material: a short, written text to read out loud

Learning Outcome

  • practice listening and speaking skills
  • distinguish important from unimportant information



Step 1: Trainers prepare a short-written text beforehand

Step 2: Depending on the size of the group and the time available, select at least two people who leave the room for the first part of the activity. Make sure they are unable to hear what’s being said in the room once they have left.


Step 1: After some of the participants have left the room, the trainer reads out the story.

Step 2: One participant from the group outside gets invited back in (B). One participant (A) from the group inside tells the story to the newcomer (B).

Step 3: Invite the next person from the group outside back into the room (C). Participant B tells the story he/she has just heard to the newcomer (C). Repeat, if more than two participants were sent outside.

Step 4: The last person who comes back in, listens to the story and repeats what he/she has heard to the whole group.

Step 5: Trainer reads out the original story to the whole group.


After the activity trainer facilitates a reflection exercise about the activity. Questions for discussion could be:

  • How much of the original story was told at the end?
  • Which details continued to be told?
  • What are the reasons for this?


  • The story should be non-fictional, ideally a newspaper report or similar.
  • The story must be written down in order to be checked after the activity.
  • Use a story of approx. 150 words.
  • The story should include proper nouns and numbers and at least two people.